The Food Service Marketing Toolkit is designed to aid those working in the Food Service Industry, including Restaurant Managers, Cafe Owners, Coffee Bar or Cocktail Bar Managers, and those in charge of any type of Food Service, in enhancing their patrons' experience. This Food Service Toolkit will also provide many unique advertising items and restaurant supplies that will make customer service easier on themselves as well as those working for them. I hope you find this Food Service and Restaurant Survival Kit helpful and will use it to increase awareness of your services. Part 1 features products that will increase awareness of your establishment and promote sales in the physical environment. Subsequent editions will include print, broadcast media, and on-line marketing.
The benefits of purchasing the right merchandising tools and promotional products to keep your business running smoothly and as successful as possible are immeasurable. There are many ways to set your restaurant or food service establishment apart from the rest. This marketing toolkit is available to provide solutions to best market your services. Without effectively doing so - especially in today's competitive market and slow economy - many restaurants, bars, and cafes will ultimately close.
The products described have been tested for effectiveness in many commercial and retail environments. Many of the products described are used by corporate businesses, retail stores, and niche shops to increase their visibility. Food service establishments can be on equal footing by employing and embracing the following marketing techniques to help boost sales and promote more business.
Copyrighted © images have been provided courtesy of George Patton Associates - leading national manufacturer and
distributer of displays.
Section 1: Outside Spaces
Exterior sign systems convey information and, along with the architectural features of your facility and conditions of your grounds, create an important and lasting first impression. You can take advantage of that first impression and inform your patrons at the same time by using these products and methods:
Wall Mounted Signs
Exterior rated menu boards, also called bulletin boards, tackboards or noticeboards, are designed to stand up to the elements. Features such as extruded aluminum encasements and multiple door seals will help to keep water and debris out. Security doors and locks keep people from tampering with your menus. Exterior rated bulletin boards are a great way to post, present, and market messages, announcements, up-and-coming events, menus, and business hours.
Sidewalk Signs and A-Frame Signs
Sidewalk signs, such as sandwich boards, and a-frame signs, are frequently used commercially to promote, describe, and sell products or services. They are extremely mobile - you can place them wherever the traffic is - and it is very hard not to notice them. Sidewalk signs can include added features such as poster holders, letter boards, light boxes, and write-on surfaces, such as wet and dry erase Marker Boards. Their sturdy aluminum construction will help to ensure durability outdoors. You can also place them indoors in host areas, lobbies, or entryways.
Snap-open technology allows you to swap out posters and advertisements quickly. Many a-frame sign board systems offer re-writable surfaces for daily changes. These marker boards are great for posting daily menu and drink specials, event notices, directions, and other messages for your patrons and potential customers.
Pavement signs and sidewalk signs displaying vibrant advertisements get noticed. Many models of sandwich boards are extremely portable - they can easily be folded up, rolled, or carried inside for storing. Some signs have water weighted bases that secure them in the wind. Others have spring holders allowing them to withstand high winds by swaying and aligning to the wind direction.
Portability, versatility, and ease of use, make this type of sign a successful outdoor marketing tool for food and restaurant services.
Illuminated Sign Systems
Illuminated sign systems - in neon style - backlit - or LED, get your restaurant noticed night and day. Programmable signs in windows giving special notices, or Open 24 hour signs for all night diners are great ways to notify customers. Let your patrons know immediately that you are open, or that you have a Drive Thru on the premises. Neon signs provide a vibrant way to communicate important information to guests or customers.
Outdoor Light Box Displays are designed especially for external use. These durable weather resistant displays brighten up your advertising and promote your business with innovative illumination. Adding light to your outdoor displays will increase your establishment's impact and entice patrons to check out your menu options, especially in dimly lit areas, or at night. Many use edgelit lighting technology to illuminate your graphics from the side, while a diffusion pattern in the frame prevents hot spots and shadows. All you see is bright, even lighting that is uniquely designed to be slightly brighter in the center of your graphics.
If your cafe or restaurant features an outdoor terrace, or a sidewalk large enough to accommodate tables and chairs in favorable weather, patio umbrellas are available to increase customer capacity. Patio umbrellas can be doubly effective by simultaneously advertising and protecting patrons from potential sun damage or an annoying sun glare.
Some advertising umbrellas or printed patio umbrellas come imprinted with your company’s logo, slogan, or sponsor. Restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops can use these printed patio umbrellas to advertise the food and beverage brands that they provide or promote a popular trend. Printed patio umbrellas are ideal to use as promotional media while also serving as sources of shade.
Outdoor amenities are not complete without trash containers and waste receptacles. Never create the opportunity for the passersby or patrons to leave their trash on your grounds. Covered trash containers keep out pests and help keep your outdoor environment clean. By providing waste containers for people passing by to use, there's a good chance trash will end up where it should be, out of sight.
It is very likely that some of your patrons or employees are smokers. Give them a place to dispose of their smoking materials safely. Keep used cigarette butts off your grounds. Many styles are available in steel and plastic that can match your architectural style and stand up to long-term use. The trash containers, ash containers will help you encourage patrons and restaurant employees to pitch in and keep your facility litter-free.
Desirable features of ash containers include - oxygen-restricted designs to extinguish cigarette butts, that eliminate the need for sand or water - and minimal maintenance with easy-to-clean steel, lift-out pails.
Section 2: Entryways and Lobbies
Restaurant host areas and entryways should be warm and inviting. You impressed them driving up, why should it be any different when they come in the door? Entryways and foyers provide numerous opportunities to promote your food service establishment, advertise a special, direct your patrons, and set the mood for a pleasurable dining experience.
Host stands and banquet podiums are a great solution when you want to make a lasting impression to your guests upon arrival. They provide hosts and hostesses with a professional workspace to organize table charts, reservations, important phone numbers, as well as create an area to display table tents advertising a favorable review or this evening's dinner special. Having an attractive host area creates the perfect place for a suggestion box to collect customer reviews and comments to further improve business.
A restaurant host stand is also an excellent spot for restaurant managers to display their own business cards as well as collect business cards from their guests. You could even hold a contest for a free lunch by collecting business cards from your patrons and picking one at random on a monthly basis. This in turn, provides another great way to market your restaurant. By having your guest's information, you can send post cards and advertising leaflets to them by postal mail or email.
Indoor Menu Stands and Signage
Displaying indoor signage helps increase sales in many restaurants and commercial food service establishments. Indoor menu display stands, changeable letterboards, write on sandwich boards, illuminated displays, wall mount chalk boards, and a frame signs help to increase profits & sell more products. Furnishing your restaurant's host area or entryway with effective indoor signage is beneficial for long term success in the food service industry.
Indoor sandwich boards and menu stands provide a convenient way to direct traffic or communicate with your customers, without saying a word as well as advertise your business in a professional manner. Many menu stands allow you to slide your menus and graphics in and out. This allows you to change your message in a matter of minutes. Interior advertisements are excellent ways to improve business for your restaurant. Many are lightweight, portable, and easy to move to a convenient location with high traffic. Letterboards are ideal for businesses and restaurants because you can constantly change your messages and specials. Some can even be used for outdoor use.
Section 3: Cafes, Breakfast Bars, and Cocktail Bars
Bar accessories and supplies are essential to any food service establishment with a cocktail bar, breakfast bar, or coffee bar. Restaurants succeed much more with organization and an attractive appearance. To be sure your bar is fully equipped, you will need many of the following food storage bins and beverage accessories:
Bulk Food Bins & Gravity Food Dispensers
Candy bins, cereal dispensers, and bagel bins come in various shapes and sizes. Bulk food bins are great for displaying and serving candy, cereal, coffee, bagels, breads, or pastries. They are essential for any bakery, cafeteria, cafe, or breakfast bar. Not only are they the perfect food displays for sanitary reasons, they create a professional look as well.
Superior qualities of many food storage bins include: NSF approval, tight fitting lids which maintain freshness, label holders which allow for quick title changes, and stain resistant polycarbonate that will not yellow, chip, crack, or craze. Some have sliding doors that stay up for scooping, then close easily to maintain your food's freshness.
Wicker Baskets, Wire Racks, and Baker's RacksWicker and wire displays can be attractive alternatives for showcasing food related products. Some also double as food storage bins. Many wicker trays and baskets are handmade from natural willow and are proven to be excellent presentation pieces. Each natural fiber is unique, therefore each food display unit is "one of a kind".
Wicker baskets, wire racks, and baker's racks are ideal storage units to use in restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops. Use them to showcase freshly-baked baguettes or bagels. Such food displays will entice guests and customers to buy products in a restaurant's gift shop or cafe.
Serving Trays & Tray StandsServing trays and tray stands offer ideal qualities and features to make them perfect for use in the food service industry. Family restaurants, dining halls, fast food franchises, ski lodges, school lunch rooms and even fine dining establishments use serving trays and tray stands to function on a daily basis.
Many restaurant trays or lunch servers, come with a non-skid surface. Even if the serving trays are wet, beverages and food items will not slip off. Some trays are fabricated from fiberglass and reinforced with steel, so they are able to carry a lot of weight. These are perfect for high volume establishments, like cafeterias and fast food restaurants. Other trays are manufactured from polypropylene to withstand frequent use in "quick serve" operations. The surface of this style of serving tray is textured to hide scratches as well. They are also provided with risers to allow them to still dry when stacked. Restaurant serving trays come in various sizes and colors for you to select the one that best suits the needs of your food service establishment.
Most serving trays are designed to use together with tray stands in your restaurant. Tray stands, like serving trays, also have an array of great qualities. Many are provided with non-slip rubber bands to prevent trays from tipping or slipping off. Plus, you can conveniently close them with one hand due to their simple folding design. The stands come in different sizes and finishes, and are lightweight for easy transportation.
Restaurant DrinkwarePlastic drinkware, such as drink pitchers and classic tumblers, for beverages will make your job as a bartender or restaurant manager easier. Plastic pitchers and drinkware come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Commercial barware is perfect for any casual dining restaurant. In contrast to breakable glassware, plastic drinkware is much safer and easier to care for.
Many are fabricated from styrene-acrylonitrile resin, which is virtually unbreakable, unlike traditional glassware.
Plastic pitchers generally come in two standard sizes: 48 oz. and 60 oz. These are perfect for offering drink specials at your cocktail bar. Offering beer or mixed drink pitcher specials is a great way to increase patronage. The pitchers can also be used by waitstaff at restaurants to refill patron’s water glasses. Plastic drinkware pitchers are often placed tabletop in a restaurant or at a party, filled with water, iced tea, soda, or juice.
Plastic barware is an environmentally friendly alternative to using disposable plastic or paper drinkware. Furthermore, it is not only safer than traditional glass drinkware, it is much cheaper and more economical, saving you money.
Bottle Organizers, Cup Dispensers, and Countertop Holders
Many bottle holders and towers, beverage accessories and dispensers, can be used in conjunction with one another.
Countertop restaurant supplies are perfect for restaurants, cafés, and buffets. Many are made of wire or plastic, and are durable enough to last a considerably long time. Food service equipment made from textured black polystyrene will blend in with most types of restaurants. Restaurant supplies, like organizers, dispensers and holders, help keep all of your condiments and beverage accessories organized to best show your selection to customers and employees.
The concession stand displays can be used to hold everything from beverage cups to condiments, and napkins to straws. Countertop racks hold beverage accessories in an organized way that guests, as well as the wait staff, will appreciate. Some café displays that baristas and bartenders find useful, hold bottles in tiers, making it easier to grab the bottle they need without too much trouble. Food courts can use the different condiment displays to keep all items their patrons could possibly want right at their fingertips.
Section 4: Dining Areas
Table Tents, Menu Holders, and Sign ClipsTable tents, menu holders, and sign clips are ideal for use in restaurants, cafés, and diners. It is important to have some form of description or literature describing a new special, or restaurant promotion at the tabletop level. This is a great way to advertise food and drink specials, new menu items, or even promotional events.
Table tents are fabricated from a variety of materials, such as acrylic, plastic, or wood. Acrylic table tents are an affordable, yet durable way to present menus and advertisements. For the budget conscious, or casual dining atmosphere, economical cheaper plastic alternatives can be used as well. Plastic table tents allow you to present menus and photo signage, without breaking the bank. Some higher class versions feature laser cut table tent designs to enhance the theme of your restaurant. For upscale establishments, there are leatherette table tents with ribbon corner trim. Whatever kind you choose, table tents are sure to effectively market your restaurant and inform guests of promotions without having to say a word.
Menu holders are an economical and effective way to promote your latest menus or special drinks of the day. Most are designed to look simple and classy on any countertop. Many menu holders come in wood, vinyl, or black acrylic styles. They are commonly found in restaurants, bars, cafes, and cashier countertops, and are used to present the latest promotions, special cocktails, or food options. Some are double sided to maximize the graphic exposure. They are ideal for easy and fast graphic changes and also come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.Memo clips are specially designed with unique shapes and contemporary styles to easily match any decor. They are an ideal way to catch customers' attention. Clip holders can be used for restaurant or drink specials, posting special promotions, or to describe what kind of muffins are for sale. They are an affordable and effective way to communicate messages to your customers! Some models feature an alligator clip while others have a rolled wire slot. Memo sign clips are commonly seen in restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and banquets.
Menu holders, memo clips, and table tents are necessities for every restaurant. It's just a matter of determining which ones will work for your restaurant or food service establishment.
Condiment Organizers & Guest Check Presenters
Condiment holders are successful in keeping your food service establishment looking neat and organized. Restaurant supply caddies serve as attractive tabletop elements to aid in the establishment's decor. In many restaurants, condiments are grouped together on a table, and can easily get pushed away from each other or strewn about the table. By using table caddies and condiment holders, you can keep the condiment bottles or packets together so your dining tables always look great.
Many condiment holders feature metal coils to vertically display menus, drink specials, comment cards, table numbers, or order numbers. Having daily specials printed out on a table is much more effective than only having your servers reading them aloud. If your patrons have a chance to look over exactly what you are offering, they are more likely to buy. Patrons will no longer have to ask their server for a specific condiment, thereby wasting the servers’ time running to go get it. If condiments are already on the table, your wait staff can spend more time attending to more customer service oriented tasks, like taking orders and bringing out food. A food dispenser or condiment organizer will keep your table turnover rate higher, allowing you to accommodate more patrons on a daily basis.
Guest check presenters provide a sophisticated way to conclude your guest's meal. Most are made out of vinyl and are patterned to look like leather. The soft padding on both the front and the back gives these check holders a very elegant feel. Some have one inside pocket, while others have two pockets on the inside and a special slot for a credit card. The check presenter is the last item your customers will see before they leave your restaurant, make sure they leave feeling that your establishment is as sophisticated and well-presented as their meal was. Many more sophisticated versions may even have "Thank You" stamped in gold lettering on the front.
These are just a few of the many marketing ideas available to your restaurant, cafe, or bar that have been tested in some of the most dynamic retail, commercial, and food service environments in the world. You can make your food service establishment more competitive and better equipped to serve your patrons with the latest ideas in restaurant supply products as well as highly effective marketing tools.
Don't just limit yourself to these options, solicite ideas from your patrons and employees. Use a suggestion box, like we discussed earlier. Then, think outside the box and move those ideas forward.